Chuck and Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaleigh for that ask meme of course!
Yeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssss. I like this.
So. I’ma answer for Raleigh first. The things I keep in mind when writing him that help me keep his character close to hand are:
1. Under everything else, Raleigh is loyal. If he takes you into his heart, you’re in his heart forever. He might be impetuous, he might accidentally get you into shenanigans, but he’ll also get you out of any trouble that might start. Even to his own detriment, he will save the people he loves if they can at all be saved.
2. Unfortunately, that means he takes his losses even heavier to heart, so when something goes wrong, it’s even more devastating. Whether Yancy is alive or not in my fics, Raleigh always feels like he has failed him, and that both steadies him and leaves him adrift, depending on the severity of The Yancy Incident. It informs his every move afterward, both tempering his impulsiveness and making him wary of allowing in new people all willy-nilly.
3. Finally, Raleigh may be carrying a weight of grief, loss, and guilt, but he is and will always be good-hearted and can always be coaxed to smile. He is a tragic character, yes, but he is also such a gloriously expressive one. We want to see him smile, not just because he deserves it but because he looks like the sun coming out after a storm.
Now, for Chuck:
1. The death of his mother is NOT the sole creator of his personality because the trouble in their family didn’t spring from her death. Herc and Angela had canon marital trouble stemming from his refusal to retire from or even scale back his involvement in service. Chuck was 10 years old when his mother died; he was a brilliant, observant child who would already feel and understand at least some of that tension, which would have already started some of the friction with his father. Thus, Angela doesn’t have to have died in a fic to have the same tense dynamic between Herc and Chuck. Which is good, because I like it when she lives.
2. I think a lot of Chuck’s sense of self-worth springs not only from his accomplishments but from forcing Herc to acknowledge them. Like the “he’s more my co-pilot, right, Dad?” snark in the mess hall scene. It’s not enough that he’s a record-setting kaiju-killing machine. He wants Herc to admit it. In my opinion, this comes not from his understandable-to-a-point anger at Herc for saving him instead of Angela but from an over-developed sense of survivor guilt. He wants to have been WORTH saving, worth his mother’s life. And he never feels like he is, though he comes close when Herc grudgingly admits he’s a badass.
3. Like Raleigh, I think Chuck is good-hearted under all the bluster and attitude and arrogance and rage. He proves it several times over - the little nod after the Double Event, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Raleigh and Mako while Stacker makes his speech, not putting up even a token argument about flipping the switch on his own death in hopes of clearing the way for someone else to grab the victory. He even readies his switch first. But he proves it nowhere better than in his relationship with Max. Dogs know, man. If Chuck really was an irredeemable jackass, Max wouldn’t have anything to do with him. Max knows all that is just surface camouflage and that underneath it, Chuck is a scared kid who wanted a life but knew he likely wouldn’t have it.
Those are the most important things I keep in mind any time I write these two. Their situations may change. They may be in an AU. Everybody may have lived, dead parents included.
But these things do not change. They are, to me, the bedrock of these two clownshoes we love so much. For me, this is why they are such endless wellsprings of inspiration for new stories.
They’re good characters, Bront.